San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 20
The Giants will have to try to finish this season strong and then reload for 2014 over the winter. Their farm system is loaded with intriguing pitching prospects, but light on position players. However, this year's first-round pick—shortstop Christian Arroyo—has looked impressive in his professional debut.
After hitting .309/.374/.480 through his first 37 minor league games, Arroyo joins this week's top 10 list. Let's take a deeper look at the Giants' latest first-rounder and the rest of the top 10 prospects.
1. Kyle Crick
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 12 GS, 1-1 W-L, 1.75 ERA, 35 BB, 79 K, 56.2 IP
Kyle Crick showed off dominant stuff against last week. According to the San Jose Giants' play-by-play broadcaster Joe Ritzo, Crick touched 99 mph on the gun during his last start while sitting at 93-97 mph.
Crick struck out 10 over six innings of work to raise his total to 79 in 56.2 innings this season. He's struck out at least 10 in four of his last nine starts.
Crick is the top prospect in the system, and one of the game's best prospects. Baseball America ranked him as the 49th-best prospect in baseball on their midseason list.
The Giants' big league rotation is fronted by three former first-round picks in Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. Another former Giants' first-round pick, Zack Wheeler, is currently throwing well for the Mets.
When it comes to selecting power arms in the first round of the draft, the Giants certainly know what they're doing. Crick is the latest success story for general manager Brian Sabean and his staff.
Last Week: 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
2. Clayton Blackburn
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 21 GS, 7-5, 3.61 ERA, 31 BB, 124 K, 122 IP
Clayton Blackburn is a different kind of success story for the Giants. They used a 16th-round pick on the husky Oklahoman during the 2011 draft. In two-plus minor league seasons, he's gone 18-10 with a 2.83 ERA and an impressive 5.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The 20-year-old Blackburn doesn't have Crick's elite stuff, as his fastball sits in the 87-92 mph range. However, he has above-average control and an advanced feel for pitching at a very young age.
Blackburn threw five more solid innings last week. He's now 7-5 with a 3.61 ERA on the year. He's struck out more than a batter per inning while walking only 2.3 per nine innings pitched.
He isn't as likely as Crick to end up at the top of a big league rotation, but he should settle in as a solid mid-rotation starter in the end.
Last Week: 1 GS, 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
3. Chris Stratton
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 20 GS, 8-3, 3.08 ERA, 41 BB, 117 K, 120 IP
Chris Stratton is starting to show why the Giants used their first-round pick on him out of Mississippi State last year. According to Baseball America, he's a four-pitch guy with a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95.
The Giants drafted him in the first round after he went 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 109.2 innings during his final collegiate season.
Stratton has had some rough outings this season, but he's on a roll of late. Over his last 10 starts, he's posted a 2.39 ERA. In eight of those 10 starts, he's allowed two runs or less.
Last week, he allowed eight hits, two runs and no walks over seven innings. He's posted a 3.08 ERA over 120 innings in his first full professional season.
In Crick, Blackburn, Stratton and Edwin Escobar, the Giants have four starting pitching prospects that are good bets to be successful big leaguers.
Last Week: 1 GS, 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
4. Edwin Escobar
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 16 GP, 3-4, 2.89 ERA, 17 BB, 92 K, 74.2 IP
2013 Stats with Double-A Richmond: 7 GS, 4-3, 2.57 ERA, 7 BB, 41 K, 42 IP
Edwin Escobar got back on track with seven shutout innings at Double-A Richmond last week. He's now 4-3 with a 2.57 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 42 innings since being promoted from High-A San Jose.
The most impressive aspect of Escobar's game is his willingness to attack the strike zone. He's walked only 24 hitters in 116.2 total innings this year.
Escobar throws strikes while touching 95 mph on the radar gun. That combination of strike-throwing ability and velocity is rare in a 21-year-old lefty.
Escobar may or may not be as good as the top three pitching prospects on this list when it's all said and done. However, he's a good bet to be the first of the group to reach the big leagues because he isn't far off.
He's dominating at Double-A right now, which puts him in line for a potential promotion to the show in 2014.
Last Week: 1 GS, 7 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
5. Joe Panik
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .262/.336/.353, .690 OPS, 25 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR
Joe Panik hasn't had a great year at Double-A. He's hit just .262 and slugged only .353, but he's walked 51 times to put his on-base percentage at a respectable .336.
When you consider that he's a solid defender at shortstop and second base, and that he's only 22 years old playing in a tough hitter's league, those numbers become more impressive.
Panik also doesn't strike out much. He's whiffed only 57 times in 539 trips to the plate. In the end, Panik will have to improve upon his .262 batting average.
He isn't going to hit for much power, so big league pitchers won't be as careful with him. Thus, he'll have to hit close to .300 to be an above-average regular in the big leagues.
Last Week: 4-for-22, BB, 2B
6. Andrew Susac
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .256/.362/.458, .820 OPS, 17 2B, 12 HR
Andrew Susac has missed all of August with a shoulder impingement (h/t Jon Laaser, the radio broadcaster for Richmond). Before the shoulder issue, Susac spent time on the disabled list with a hand injury. He also missed time with a broken hamate bone during his final season at Oregon State.
Prior to the injuries, Susac had established himself as the top hitting prospect in the system by hitting .256/.362/.458 with 12 home runs and 42 walks in 310 plate appearances. Susac will have to remain healthy in the future to reach his ceiling as an everyday catcher in the big leagues.
Last Week: Did not play.
7. Martin Agosta
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 16 GS, 8-3, 1.96 ERA, 35 BB, 101 K, 82.2 IP
Martin Agosta returned from his third stint on the disabled list to throw three no-hit innings last week. According to David Lee of the Augusta Chronicle, he was pulled early due to a pitch count limit.
Agosta's injuries have been fairly minor. He's missed time with a dead arm and a recurring blister issue.
When he has been healthy, he's been dominant. He's struck out 101 and allowed only 49 hits in 82.2 innings.
He's only pitched four times since June 13, so he's behind the top four starting pitching prospects in the system right now. If he had remained healthy, he'd probably be higher on this list given how well he's thrown this season.
Last Week: 1 GS, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
8. Heath Hembree
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 50 GP, 1-3, 3.91 ERA, 15 BB, 60 K, 50.2 IP, 29 Saves
One exciting thing for Giants fans to look forward to this season is the eventual promotion of reliever Heath Hembree. The closer at Triple-A Fresno has saved 29 games this season.
He's posted a 0.96 ERA with eight saves over his last 10 games, making a September promotion very likely.
According to Baseball America, Hembree features a 93-96 mph fastball and an 82-85 mph slider. That arsenal would fit in nicely at the back of the Giants bullpen, which is devoid of power arms.
Last Week: 3 GP, 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3 Saves
9. Mac Williamson
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: .278/.361/.473, .834 OPS, 27 2B, 2 3B, 20 HR
Mac Williamson had another good week at High-A San Jose. After drafting Stratton and Agosta in the first two rounds last year, the Giants used their third-round pick on Williamson, a right fielder from Wake Forest.
Williamson is hitting .278/.361/.473 with 49 extra-base hits in his first full minor league season. The 6'5", 240-pounder is also 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts. His combination of power and size makes him a prospect worth watching.
He'll have to improve upon his 23.1 percent strikeout rate as he moves up the chain. If Williamson can make more contact, he'll have a chance to take over in right field by 2016.
Last Week: 7-for-21, 2 2B, 2 BB
10. Christian Arroyo
2013 Stats in Arizona Rookie League (through Saturday): .309/.374/.480, .854 OPS, 17 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR
However, that perception is already starting to change. Arroyo has opened his professional career by hitting .309 over 37 games.
ESPN prospect analyst Keith Law recently scouted Arroyo and wrote (subscription required), "I think he [Arroyo] ends up at second base, but has a chance for a grade-60 bat or better, which would make him at least a solid regular."
The 18-year-old Arroyo is a long ways away from the big leagues, but he has as much upside as any hitting prospect in the system. It's early, but so far, it looks like the Giants got it right with their 2013 first-round draft choice.
Last Week: 8-13, 4 2B, 3B
Here are some other notable prospects to keep an eye on:
Former top prospect Gary Brown has fallen off the top 10 list after hitting just .232/.288/.391 at Triple-A Fresno so far in 2013.
Ty Blach is 11-3 with a 2.95 ERA at San Jose. He's struck out 109 against only 15 walks.
Kendry Flores is 9-6 with a 2.75 ERA at Augusta. He's struck out 119 against 17 walks in 127 innings of work.
Adalberto Mejia has posted a 3.42 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 68.1 innings at San Jose.
Eric Surkamp has delivered four straight excellent starts at Triple-A Fresno to lower his ERA to 2.77. Over his last four starts, he's thrown 28 innings and allowed only five runs.
Michael Kickham has also given Fresno four straight solid outings. During that stretch, he's allowed four earned runs over 27.1 innings to lower his ERA to 4.31.
2013 second-round pick Ryder Jones is hitting .351 through his first 29 games.